As a freelance photo documentarian in the GDR, Reinhard Mende worked independently of the usual agenda of the socialist planned economy and thus, much like the East German photographer Evelyn Richter, pursued a practice based on fees, which from the early 1970s onward was not unusual, especially in the context of the trade fair in Leipzig. He produced a body of work comprising around sixteen thousand photographs commissioned by various GDR collective combines. Seen from today’s perspective, they reveal a distanced view of the subjects they depict. At the same time, these photographs initiate a policy of ambivalent memory that vehemently refused any nostalgic reconstruction of a historical moment.

Installation view, Halle 14, Leipzig 2012
© Produzieren/ Armin Linke